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Give ‘em Kansas, Say Jesting Editors, Washing Hands of Jews with a Quip

An editorial conference by five distinguished men of letters—George Jean Nathan, Ernest Boyd, Theodore Dreiser, James Branch Cabell and Eugene O’Neill—is reproduced on the front page of the September issue of The American Spectator.

The subject of discussion is “The Jews” and the conclusion at which these editors arrive is that the Jews should be given- the state of Kansas. “Thereby,” explains James Branch Cabell, “in the first place, we might rid ourselves of Kansas; in the second place of the Jews; and in the third place, we might happily establish in the heart of America a source not only of aesthetic development but of financial support.”

With this summation the combined editorial board of The American Spectator seems to be in accord, despite the fact that Theodore Dreiser quotes an eminent Jew to the effect that the Jew is better off not “nationalized”, that he were better left to “work out his fate according to his present circumstances and handicaps or advantages.”

“For,” as Dreiser’s friend points out, “the Jew is more a bugaboo or a myth than a real and certain evil.” And so that his Jewish friend shall not be misinterpreted, Dreiser quotes his letter.

“While there is a Jew like Lewisohn,” writes the man whom Dreiser quotes, “who insists that Jews should have a land of their own and distinguish themselves as a nation, there is the Jew like myself (the writer of the letter) who believes that the Jews are a peculiarly and specially tempered people, who are not interested to construct an all-round nation, but prefer to share in and take advantage of, if possible, selected aspects and gifts of other nations. In other words, temperamentally they are inclined to drift to whatever nation is of promise in their time and, once there, to join their specific interests and energies with it, in the hope of bettering themselves and the world. Please note Marx and Trotsky,” continues Dreiser’s correspondent, “the one in Germany, the other in Russia. Personally, I feel that this constitutes a Jewish fate which is not to be overcome by either agreement among themselves as a nation, or any agreements with the world in general permitting their liberty of wandering. And because of this, we Jews must be prepared to suffer the things which such a peculiarly minded and motivated people might be expected to suffer, and that includes exiles, removals or exclusions such as occurred in Egypt, Syria, Rome, Spain, and now Germany, also pogroms of the Russian type. Personally,” he concludes, “I believe that in spite of all that, and with the developing intelligence of nations, the fate of the Jew will take care of itself, and that while he will never seize control nor prove an overwhelming force in any country, since he does not breed fast enough and suffers a higher death rate, he will add greatly to the fire and strength and development of such countries as he chooses to ally himself with, and by the same token to the mental and social development of the world at large.”

And this, say George Jean Nathan and Eugene O’Neill, in concert, is probably the only answer. But, after further discussion in which the question of Catholicism versus Judaism is thrashed out, editorially, they too agree that were the Jews presented with the state of Kansas, that particular sore spot on our map (insofar as Nathan, Boyd, Dreiser, Cabell and O’Neill are concerned) might be made to blossom with currency, art and music.

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